Human Rights

Florida State Students Vote Overwhelmingly To Become A Sanctuary Campus

Florida State University students voted overwhelmingly to make their campus a “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants.

The vote, which is not binding is a strong indication of student opinion on the issue of whether to allow campus officials to aid in the potential deportation of students who are undocumented.

According to FSU News, it is unclear whether the FSU SGA will lobby the university to make the decision binding.

According to the student newspaper, if FSU became a sanctuary campus then the Immigration Customs Enforcement would not be allowed to conduct operations on FSU grounds.

66.9% of students who voted in the referendum, voted to make FSU a sanctuary campus.

Here was the language put to the student body:

“We the students of Florida State University believe in maintaining equality of access to higher education for all students. We therefore support the classification of Florida State University as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. In particular, we want the FSU administration to guarantee that no FSU agencies will release the immigration status of students to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or allow ICE to come on campus. We also want the FSU administration to guarantee that undocumented students residing in Florida will continue to receive instate tuition waivers. We also want the FSU administration to guarantee that any tuition assistance for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or undocumented student that has already been awarded will not be withheld or revoked on the basis of their legal status.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: librarianfinsen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

America Is A Nation Of Immigrants, But We Don’t Want To Believe It

“My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!”

Liberty is the state of being free from oppression and imposed authority on one’s life, views, and behaviors in society.

We praise America, but for what?

Not for advancements in technology, cures of diseases, innovations, policies, monumental movements, etc.

But we praise it in admiration of our founding fathers, our core values, the constitution, traditions— the land where our founders have died, the same land that was built on the backs of slaves.

Millions of dead slaves built this country- an African Holocaust.

We take pride in the pilgrims who came to America ultimately wiping out 90 percent of the Native American population and everything they had.

Form every mountain side there are people who are not native to this land yet claim it as their own.

But why?

Because this is the land of opportunity, wealth, provisions, freedom– Freedom for those who this land was built for not built by, freedom to those that represent the majority population of our country.

We are all immigrants but we don’t want to admit it.

Photo Credit: David Jones/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Because to admit that fact would force us to realize that we don’t own this land.

It would force us to take a different view towards those who wish to call it home as well.

The native population even in combination with another race only makes up 1.7 percent of America’s population.

The rest of us had to get here somehow.

Whether by boats in the slave trade, pilgrimages for religious freedom, through Angel Island, through Ellis Island, through escape from your homeland, we all claim this land of America because our ancestors migrated here.

By 2025 we are projected to hit 14.9 percent of our entire population to be foreign born.

Our entire foundation is based on the work of immigrants making America.

And in the present day, we are staying afloat because of foreigners in our land who want nothing more to be fully accepted and offered liberty, the same liberty we pledge our allegiance to.

A statue of Italian immigrants. Photo Credit: Paul Sableman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Now we are stuck in the cross hairs of Making America Great Again by stopping immigrants from expanding our country, and not recognizing that without immigrants America is nothing.

From the start, were we ever great?

How do we return to a state that never existed?

We are a nation of immigrants and we do not accept it because we don’t want to.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: John Mitchell/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This Facebook Post From Right After The Orlando Massacre Is Just Perfect

This Facebook post is republished below with the permission of the author. 

By Brian Gil

As someone that literally never goes out to gay clubs, gay pride parades, or gay anything. I have to say, I have never cried so hard in a single day in my life.

This shooting and the effect its had literally (49 dead) and metaphorically are the fucking worst.

Only a gay person will truly feel the pain today that comes with living a life subconsciously anxious about stigmas, prejudices, and whether or not people will just generally accept you for how you are naturally.

Only a gay person has had to wake up everyday before this event, and looked themselves in the soul to tell themselves they’re worthwhile,while the rest of the world questions your integrity.

Your gonna tell me, on top of carrying all that around, the single location gay people can convene and feel comfortable about themselves in our society has someone walking in with a rifle shooting and rotating the gun across the room? Kick them while your down why don’t you, piece of shit.

Like this? You can write for us too

While the past few years the gay community has seen several progresses (marriage equality mainly), it seems we’ve all gone complacent about how unequal gay people still are.

Employment discrimination is still legal in many states. Anti-LGBT legislation has been sweeping the nation in the news lately. Clearly someone feels unaccepting to the point where they carried out their prejudices into mass violence.

I wanted everyone to see how a couple (literally very few) progresses towards acceptance doesn’t mean the related bigotry in our society has gone away.

Just like racism – just because the civil war, civil rights movement, and ‪#‎staywoke‬ movement have improved our society, it doesn’t mean racism doesn’t still exist (post-racial narrative).

We have to do what we must as people everyday to be conscious of these problems so we can change our world to make future generations better so these types of tragedies stop happening.

How many innocent marginalized members of society have to die before they become accepted? My point is, theres a better way – which is simply understanding, compassion, and solidarity for other humans

‪#‎HelpfulNotHateful‬

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

It’s Time To Let Gay Men Give Blood Again

This past Sunday a horrible act of terrorism occurred at Pulse Night Club, a gay club located in Orlando, Florida.

An armed gunman entered the club and opened fire killing 49 people and leaving over 50 other injured.

Local hospitals were in desperate need of blood and encouraged people to come out and donate to help save the lives of the victims of the shooting.

But because of the restrictions set out by the FDA, gay men, the group of people that was targeted during this attack, were not allowed to donate.

These “deferrals,” as the FDA calls them, were first put in place in 1983, during the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

They were put into place back when there still wasn’t much information out there about HIV/AIDS and a false stigma existed that made people think only gay people could contract the disease, which we now know to be far from the truth.

It is true that back then HIV/AIDS were more common within the LGBT+ community, but that is because at the time the use of protection during sex wasn’t thought to be necessary and was rarely ever used.

Like this? You can write for us too

The FDA had initially banned any man who had sexual contact with another man and any women who has had sexual contact with a man who had sexual contact with another man.

In 2015 the rules were loosened up slightly and now only restricts men who have had sexual contact with another man within the last twelve months. This prevents any sexually active gay man to be a donor.

These rules are outdated and this week prevented some members of the LGBT+ community from being able to give blood to help support and potentially save lives of the victims of their own community who were attacked.

In recent years precautions been taken within the LGBT+ community to raise awareness about contracting HIV/AIDS as well as the importance of using protection and getting regularly tested.

There have also been many scientific advancements since the restriction was first put into place and now all donated blood is screened for many different types of blood-borne, diseases including HIV/AIDS.

The ban on gay men donating blood needs to be lifted.

It was written decades ago based fear and false stigmas.

We have progressed far enough to know now that any person can contract HIV/AIDS, not just gay men.

We need to stop excusing these negative stereotypes and make a change to these rules.

Every healthy and able person should be able to help their communities and donate in trying times such as these, and we need to no longer let ignorance stop them from doing so.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

The Shooting Of Harambe Has Opened Up A New Culture War In America

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days or so, you’ve probably heard folks be shocked and upset at the death of Harambe, a silverback Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into the enclosure there on May 30. 

As the days continue to progress, the individual pieces of the story are becoming clearer, which is helping to lift the mask on how dangerous the situation was for the child.

According to an article written in the Huffington Post Canada, Greg Tarry, associate director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), made several notes about how the gorilla was a threat to the life of the child.

“Even when it was standing over the child in the water, that’s generally kind of a dominance thing,” Tarry said in the article. “He was jerking that child around like a rag doll.”

The move which took Harambe’s life was considered a tragic necessity by many zoological experts, since the gorilla was showing signs of aggression towards the boy.

Multiple sources, including the director of the Cincinnati Zoo Thane Maynard defended the use of the gun instead of a tranquilizer.

He stated, “Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes, and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.”

Like this? You can write for us too

Regardless of the quotes from several experts discussing why shooting the animal was a tragic but needed necessity, many commenters and social media keyboard warriors believe that the life of the child whose life was in danger was less important than the life of the gorilla, as noted in multiple examples across plentiful social media sites.

According to multiple accounts and an article written on The Daily Banter, reactions included the likes of “responses to this tragedy range from cries of “the parents should have been the ones shot,” to, “another innocent beautiful animal has been… killed as a result of awful parenting,” to, “kids are a dime a dozen, there’s millions of them, he’d be one less moron in the gene pool, the gorillas are the endangered species here not brats,” to “open season with $1000 a bounty on those too stupid to live!” to “it’s the stupid cunt who didn’t notice her child wasn’t there,” to, delightfully, “eugenics comes to mind.”

The same article summarized it best when it said “An undulating online army of angry idiots, righteous in their absolute moral authority and bolstered by the warmth of all those Facebook likes and shares, raining fire down on a person or people they know literally nothing at all about involved in a situation about which they simply don’t have all the facts yet.”

While the shooting and the death of an innocent, endangered animal is certainly nothing to celebrate and something to be rightly mourned, doing what had to be done to save a fellow human being is nothing to make jokes at, or to chastise because the process would have taken the death of an animal.

It’s becoming apparent that there is a chance that this is becoming a cultural war in between those who value animal lives over the lives of humans, and vice versa.

It’s becoming increasingly scary to see those who would, time and time again, put the lives and safety of humans on the backburner to save the life of an animal.

Defending animals and their livelihoods, especially if they are endangered species is something that is duly important, and something that more people should become involved in.

But in rare and tragic situations like these, wishing death and vitriol against parents and people who most likely feel the weight of the world on their shoulders does not show the compassion that you want to emit, and it does not show the peace that animal activists and humans alike want to see in the world.

While we should take every step necessary in order to ensure that situations like the ones that happened in Cincinnati do not happen again, we should also be aware that in the event that something like this does happen again, we should realize and acknowledge that the zookeepers and the people that if the situation calls for it end the life of the animal have known the animal for much longer than a bunch of keyboard warriors and desk chair activists, and it must pain them to bring the end to an animal that they’ve known for years, but they also have a duty to save a member of our own species, a human child who is just as unrepeatable and irreplaceable as a beloved animal.

This was not a case of willful, premeditated killing. It was a necessity to save a life.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jere Keys/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

On The Whole, Americans Don’t Seem To Really Care About Homeless People

They sleep quietly, waiting in plain sight to be spotted or recognized.

Humans treated inhumanely out of ignorance, discomfort, or fear.

They see everything and yet everything overlooks them; they are the homeless of America.

In an article in The Atlantic, Stephen Lurie references a recent Gallup poll stating that, “just 2 percent of respondents said that the category of “Poverty/Hunger/Homelessness” constituted “the most important problem facing this country today.”

It is easy to say that homelessness is a sad and important issue in this country, but it is another thing to actually prioritize the lives of those in need.

We as a country do not take care of homeless people.

People are not interested in statistics regarding the homeless.

isidewith.com’s homepage for the most important topics of 2016 does not even include homelessness as a prioritized topic.

So does the country just simply not care about those in need, or is there a different problem in place?

Carey Fuller of the Huffington Post put it best stating that, “homelessness isn’t an invisible problem; it’s a highly ignored and marginalized problem which ends up making the problem worse for homeless people.”

We aren’t afraid to admit that there is a significant problem of homelessness in this country, but we are terrified to feel any form of personal responsibility for a homeless person.

Photo Credit: Karim Corban/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Karim Corban/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A capitalist society often causes a perception that those in bad situations are responsible for their misfortunes.

The whole, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” ideal is one that many Americans believe in, even if they themselves never had to do so in order to find success.

The problem isn’t always the homeless individual; the problem is a government and a society that does not see that individual as an equal American.

The problem is a system that is put in place to make rich people richer and poor people poorer.

A very famous video of a 2011 study at Harvard explained that 90 percent of Americans believe that economic wealth should be more equally distributed than they perceive it to be now.

Another part of the video plays into this idea describing the “American Dream”, and that people need motivation to work hard in order to achieve success and “keep our country moving forward”.

WATCH: Wealth Inequality In America

Like this? You can write for us too

So maybe that’s it? Maybe it is easy to disregard the homeless because they are not perceived as helpful members of society?

Photo Credit: Victoria Johnson/ Flick (CC 2.0)

Photo Credit: Victoria Johnson/ Flick (CC 2.0)

Well then let’s look at the numbers for this idea: Green Doors explained that the homeless visit emergency rooms more frequently and stay in hospitals for a longer period of time.

Here is what their study showed: “Each visit [for the homeless] costs $3,700; that’s $18,500 spent per year for the average person and $44,400 spent per year for the highest users of emergency departments.”

Moyers & Company published an article that found it costs $21,000 more to “ignore the homeless than it does to give them homes”.

These numbers come from the cost of medical attention, incarceration, shelters, etc.

So clearly this idea that leaving these people homeless is a cheaper option that actually fixing the problem is widely inaccurate.

The proven truth, is that helping the homeless find a permanent home is much more successful than ignoring them.

An NPR article declared that Utah reduced their chronic homeless population by 91 percent after instating their Housing First initiative.

The Utah solution focuses on putting people in stable housing situations first before dealing with other service needs. And people put into these homes are expected to pay monthly rent for them. But the mix of refocusing priorities and demanding accountability seems to have worked.

Granted, Utah is much smaller than states with a greater homeless population, but their work still proves that solving this problem can be done, and it can benefit everyone.

Personally dealing with the homeless on a day-to-day basis should not resemble an obstacle course of averting eye contact and speeding up ones pace when walking by someone; but it does, and it always will.

The only way to deal with the homeless and represent “American ideals” is to make poverty a prioritized topic, and create national conversation that works towards helping these individuals in a permanent and meaningful way.

If an individual can succeed of the help from family inheritance and support, homeless can and should be allowed to succeed with the help of the country’s support.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Moise Nicu/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

For Women To Be Truly Empowered, We Have To Do More Than Just Tweet

By Carolina de la Fuente

Women make 79 cents to a man’s dollar every time they are paid. To many, 21 cents is chump change, but for women all around the country, these 21 cents speak volumes about the state of gender equality.

I recently participated in a research project at my college and it helped me understand feminism a little bit better and I’d like to share my newfound insight with you. 

But first, a quick statement on terms: Feminism isn’t about women alone, it’s about equality of the sexes.

In this project, I specifically focused on women in the field of communications, but this information can be relevant to any woman in any field. There’s a greater picture here.

In 2013, TIME magazine stated “For three decades more women than men have graduated from college, but that academic dominance has not led to corresponding business or political success.”

There is a sort of stereotype embedded in society that tells us that women are “the softer sex” and that men are the leaders.

Sometimes, we are naturally partaking in this narrative and we don’t even notice it. The mere fact that women make up only 5 percent of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies makes this a very big concern of mine.

So how can we fix this? Calling ourselves feminists and tweeting things like “MY P*SSY, MY CHOICE” can only go so far. Though, there is some valid rationale behind that concept.

The most important thing we have to do is empower women.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said in a 60 Minutes interview: “Women play it too safe. They must aim high and fight the instinct to hold back.”

It’s a matter of identity. We have to reiterate the narrative that it’s okay for a woman to be outspoken and assertive without having to be perceived as a “bitch.”

Women need to identify and become comfortable with all their aspirations and not let this stereotype come in the way or shy them down.

Like this? You can write for us too

Mindy Marques, the Executive Editor and Vice President of the Miami Herald, reinforced this notion in a recent talk she made at Florida International University.

“As women, we tend to dwell on our weaknesses, and men I think focus more on their strengths,” Marques said. “We often bring that self-criticism to the workplace as well, and so we’re dissecting our abilities; second-guessing ourselves.”

Photo Credit: Charlotte Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Charlotte Cooper/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Besides issues of identity, there is a whole system that also needs to be tapped into in order to change this disproportionate number of women leaders.

In this case, it is leadership training that could be the big fix.

In order for women to become empowered, we must train them and provide them with resourceful skills to go out on their jobs and be able to ask for that pay raise, or speak up about an unpopular opinion in that business meeting.

Kathy Fitzpatrick, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Communication at American University, suggests colleges should implement a standard curriculum for leadership training in communications.

“We can learn a lot from schools of business and other schools who have taken a lead in attempting to identify the core content and objective of leadership training,” Fitzpatrick said in a recent speech at FIU.

Leadership training is a crucial skill that needs to be held as a priority in this field whether it be through curriculum reform or mentorship programs.

As fun as it is to angry-tweet when you want to feel empowered, it’s important to understand the root of the problem and the solutions we can present to our institutions.

And it is even more important to remember that a big chunk of the responsibility is on the woman herself, to feel empowered and to continue empowering.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Ian Clark/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

#RomaAreEqual: A Man Brutally Beat A Roma Boy And Put The Video Online Where It Backfired

By Jud Nirenberg

On April 18th, a teenage boy I have never met, Mitko, stood up for me. Shortly after being beaten by a white supremacist, Mitko got to his feet and defended me some more.

Mitko is Romani, a member of Europe’s largest ethnic minority and, according to many polls, the minority against whom people hold the most prejudice.

He was on his way home in the small Bulgarian village of Ovchepoltsi when the much larger twenty-four year old Angel Kaleev approached him and asked him whether he thought that they were equals. Kaleev was video recording the encounter.

A nervous Mitko tried to smile and was clearly aware of the risk of assault: “Well, if you’re not going to hit me, I’ll say we’re equal.”

The attacker did hit him and forced him to the ground.

He cursed and berated the boy. “Am I a Gypsy?” he asked, repeatedly kicking Mitko and making him apologize for supposing that they were equal despite their ethnic difference.

Kaleev posted the video with his own racist commentary on social media.

Mitko was hurt but not convinced that Romani people are inferior to others. He made something of his own statement for social media.

He had a picture taken of himself holding a sign that reads #RomaAreEqual.

His defiance has provoked Roma across Europe and beyond to add their own #RomaAreEqual photos online.

It has also drawn out many racist social media posts by Bulgarians who find the slogan of equality offensive.

When this young man dared to say that Roma are equal to the face of a bigot with obvious violent intent, he was not only reaffirming his own dignity. He was defending my dignity, my son’s dignity, and that of all Romani people.

Knowing that he would have to get up the next day, go to his segregated school (in towns all over Bulgaria, Romani children are placed in segregated education) and then walk home on the same street where Kaleev stopped him before, Mitko chose to publicly show that this story is not over.

Advocacy organizations like the Budapest-based European Roma Rights Center are now asking the Bulgarian government to offer plans to better respond to hate crimes.

The current political mood does not make equal rights a high priority.

If you see this, Mitko, you and Angel Kaleev are not equals. You are better.

Jud Nirenberg is the author of Johann Trollmann and Romani Resistance to the Nazis. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Romani Arts/ Twitter (Screengrab) 

Here’s What Valentine’s Day Is Like For A Person In A Polyamorous Relationship

By Julia Fox

Still believe that exclusivity is necessary for deep, committed, long-term and loving relationships? The modern divorce rate of 50% says otherwise.

As traditional Valentine’s Day-themed pink and red greeting cards replace the tired Christmas & New Year colors on the stands of stores, most of us are anticipating (or dreading) the invasion of our social networks and television with the typical romantic scenarios of exchanging gifts, kisses and love messages between two lovers of the opposite or the same sex. Very few of us ever imagine the holiday routine in relationships where there are more than two lovers involved.

The images of cheating two-timers running between the deceived spouse and the scheming mistress aside, we are hardly bombarded nowadays by pictures of non-traditional family unions, such as polyamorous families, where the conventional Valentine’s day gift exchange is a little bit more complicated.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy… are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy is practiced with knowledge and consent of everyone involved are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

How do polyamorous relationships come about? I am sure it is rarely a case of waking up one morning with your partner snoring by your side and deciding ‘why not add to the duo.’ The stories of people entering into the polyamorous unions are as many and varied as those embarking on conventional ones.

The beginning of my polyamorous relationship was a case of almost choking on toast one morning after my husband of 10 years admitted to having a homosexual relationship back in his college years with a Ukrainian man named Sasha.

Skipping through the finding Sasha story and straight into the reality of maintaining a household and a life with two partners and, yes, surviving a Valentine’s day together, the polyamorous relationship with a bi-sexual partner and a homosexual one who spent all of his life in the closet became an adventure for me worth sharing.

Almost all of us enter into a romantic union with the desire to be happy and to make our partners happy. Unfortunately, helping Sasha “come out of the closet” and leave the Ukraine was a huge struggle due to the severe psychological repercussions of concealing his sexuality since he was a young teen.

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dreading being ostracized by the community, fearing shame, physical torture and even imprisonment, creating a heterosexual family and dissociating himself from the gay community altogether made Sasha (and many thousands of his compatriots) the broken man that he was when he joined our family. Thus, welcoming Sasha into our union and expecting a ‘happy-ever-after’ was just as irrational as anticipating an unclouded happiness in any relationship once the wedding bells quiet down.

Each person comes into a relationship, whether it is a traditional one or less then so, with one’s own baggage of expectations based on childhood memories, literature, social media and a load of personal traumatic experiences and their consequences, and thus Sasha joined us with the full baggage of his own.

Being forced into a traditional marriage by his parents and living his life as a heterosexual man affected Sasha’s mental health and contributed to the development of a whole range of mental issues, such as dissociation, depression, internalized homophobia, self-disgust, self-hatred and denial of one’s sexual orientation to oneself and others. There conditions are commonplace in persons with repressed sexual orientation, according to many prominent psychiatrists.

Sasha exhibited all kinds of issues, such as low self-esteem, negative body image and contempt for the more open LGBT members who decided to come out years before. More importantly, Sasha had a tendency to deny that homophobia was a serious social problem altogether. Remaining in a heterosexual relationship for most of his life in an attempt to pass as ‘normal’ and to gain social approval, Sasha became chronically depressed and took to heavy drinking. His fear of intimacy and his suicidal thoughts presented a bigger challenge and a threat to our union.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

The freedoms that sexual minorities are enjoying in the majority of democratic countries today are precious and unheard of in such places as Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet territories. Giving American LGBT members a glimpse into the lives of those who are less fortunate and still struggle for their rights might be an eye-opening experience this Valentine’s day. 

Sasha’s arrival in our life, the life of a typical monogamous heterosexual couple, meant re-imagining our relationship, challenging traditional marriage, sexuality and love itself. All three of us had to learn to navigate and explore the challenges and complexities of a polyamorous reality together against a backdrop of cultural and societal expectations and judgments.

Examining and questioning the dynamic and often challenging elements of marriage, relationships and acceptance, are just a few issues that polyamorous unions might bring out into the discussion.

Julia Fox immigrated from Russia in her late teens, settling in the United States in the early 90s. She published two books of poetry before leaving her home country, both in Russian, and published two more in English language after immigrating. And Then There Were Three: Sixty Seven Letters to Sasha is her first autobiographical memoir. 

For more information about And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha, please visit Julia Fox’s websiteFacebook and Twitter pages. 

Cover Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Drug Lowers Gay Men’s Risk Of Getting HIV By 90%, But Many People Don’t Know About It

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), also known by its commercial name Truvada, is a daily medication used to prevent HIV infections that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

The statistics of how well PrEP works at preventing HIV are astounding.

According to the CDC, when taken daily and in conjunction with other preventative measures such as using a condom during sex, PrEP “can reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV by more than 90 percent.”

Even more astonishing, a two and a half-year study performed by researchers from Kaiser Permanente found no new HIV infections among their patients while they were taking PrEP.

However, within six months of taking of PrEP 30 percent of the patients in the Kaiser Permanente study reported having a sexually transmitted infection (STI), at 12 months, 50 percent of patients reported an STI, yet still no new HIV infections.

You can read the full study here: http://share.kaiserpermanente.org/article/large-study-of-prep-use-in-clinical-practice-shows-no-new-hiv-infections/

After all the HIV/AIDS activists who died fighting for preventative medication, PrEP is almost too good to be true. People should be showering the streets with glitter and confetti and screaming at the top of their lungs with joy.

PrEP is not only changing the game, but can hopefully be a big part of the effort in eradicating HIV infections around the world.

PrEP is not only changing the game, but can hopefully be a big part of the effort in eradicating HIV infections around the world.

However, even though studies have proven the tremendous effectiveness of PrEP, and although PrEP is creeping its way into pop culture dialogue with its inclusion in an episode of How To Get Away With Murder, many health care providers aren’t even aware of the medication’s existence.

Watch: PrEP mentioned on How To Get Away With Murder

In a Nov. 24th media release, Center for Disease Control (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said, “PrEP isn’t reaching many people who could benefit from it, and many providers remain unaware of its promise.”

1 in 3 doctors and nurses are unaware of PrEP.

And 1 in 3 doctors and nurses are unaware of PrEP. You can read the media release and find out more about the CDC’s research on PrEP

Miami Multidisciplinary Artist and Cultural Organizer Guillermo León Gómez, experienced this lack of awareness first hand last year.

“I wanted to discuss if there were any possible precautions with an existing disorder of mine and, if not, I would like to begin medicating,” Gómez said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “He [Gómez’s doctor] was unfamiliar with the medication and referred me to an infectious disease doctor. ”

What’s even more startling is the immense backlash PrEP has received and the contradictory studies being released by major health organizations.

In a 2014 infographic by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the foundation makes clear it position.

“AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has taken the position that the scientific data do not support the large-scale use of Truvada [PrEP] as a community wide public health intervention,” the infographic reads.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 1.25.03 PM

A infographic produced by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) opposing the use of PrEP. Photo Credit: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

The foundation explains the low of effectiveness of PrEP is due to “participants [not taking] Truvada as prescribed by medical professionals.”

Yet, what the foundation failed to include in their infographic is that PrEP typically works when taken daily as prescribed.

Fast forward a year later to August 2015, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has taken out a large scale advertising campaign, which would later appear in gay publications nationwide, condemning the science behind PrEP.

And what’s really fascinating is the paragraph prior to the one where the sentence is located, it’s stated that PrEP will not work as a mass public health prevention even though the CDC recommends it. How’s that for medical science? You can view and download the ad here (link: http://bit.ly/1PW6Y2i).

Research and extensive studies have been done on PrEP. But with a lack of awareness in the medical professional world and erroneous information being propagated by big health organizations, the efficiency of PrEP can seriously slow down if not come to a complete halt.

Do you have an opinion about PrEP and whether its use should be encouraged in the gay community? We are interested in publishing you! Send us an email to editor@risenews.net

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: GGAADD/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Scroll to top